Special Sub-Topic: Elizabeth Bathory: The First Dracula
|At what age did Elizabeth marry her husband, Count Ferencz Nadasdy?|
15. Elizabeth (Erzsebet in Hungarian) Bathory was born on August 7, 1560, to Baron and Baroness Anna and George Bathory, who were at the time one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in Hungary. Elizabeth's cousin was the prime minister of Hungary, another relative was a cardinal, and her uncle Stephan later became King of Poland. In 1571, at the tender age of 11, Elizabeth was betrothed to 21-year-old Count Ferencz Nadasdy, a soldier. They married in May 1575. The marriage was one of political strategy on the part of Elizabeth's family; she had no love for her husband, ten years her senior. She was, however, happy with her new role of Countess of the Castle of Csejthe, located in northwestern Hungary (now Slovakia).
|Who were the first people that Elizabeth tortured?|
her servants. The young newlywed countess found herself alone often while her husband was off fighting a war, so she decided to take up a hobby. Instead of knitting or reading, however, she chose torture, selecting her female servants as her subjects since they were readily available. It is unknown exactly when or how Elizabeth began this new hobby, but she was obviously sadistic, delighting in the screams and grimaces of her subjects as she tortured them. When her husband was home, she shared her hobby with him, but sources say that he became disgusted and disinterested.
|Elizabeth never had children.|
f. Unfortunately, this monster did reproduce. Before she married her husband, at the age of 14, she was said to have borne a child to a peasant man; this child was relinquished to the peasant. In her late twenties, she gave birth to a son and three daughters, all of whom were cared for by nurses. Fortunately for them, they had little, if any, contact with their mother.
|How did Elizabeth's husband die?|
in battle. Count Ferencz, "the Black Hero of Hungary", died in battle in 1604. Although rumors abounded that his wife had poisoned him or put some sort of hex on him, no evidence of this was ever found. The death of her husband allowed Elizabeth even more freedom to pursue her ghoulish hobbies.
|What - according to tradition - did Elizabeth do with the blood of her victims?|
she bathed in it. This is the story of how Elizabeth earned the title "Countess of Blood": one day she hit a servant, drawing blood from the young girl. Somehow the blood was transferred to Elizabeth's own face, and she got the idea that her skin in that spot was youthful and more radiant than that on the rest of her mug. (A delusion? There was a history of mental illness, not surprisingly, in the Bathory clan). So Elizabeth had the idea that if she literally bathed in the blood of young virgins, she would always be young and beautiful. For this large project, she recruited some of her female servants, who were said to be "practicing" witches. These servants would procure young girls, mostly orphans and runaways, and bring them back to the castle, where they would be imprisoned while awaiting their death. In a feat of macabre engineering to rival the most gruesome horror films, Elizabeth had a device built which enabled the dying victim to hang suspended while the countess literally bathed in the blood that flowed downwards. After several hundred of such bloodbaths, Elizabeth noted that she wasn't looking any younger. Instead of giving up bloodbathing and going out and buying some Oil of Olay or something, she decided that the quality of the victims' blood must be at fault. Elizabeth reasoned that she needed good blood- that of aristocratic girls- for her beauty ritual. So she set up a scheme in which she advertised her castle as a "finishing school" in which she herself would instruct the daughters of the well-to-do in manners or whatever else one learned in these schools. Being a countess, she had little trouble finding willing noble parents who wanted their daughters to learn proper instruction. However, here Elizabeth ran into a snag; while most of her previous victims were homeless or runaways who weren't missed, these girls were from stable homes and their parents became concerned, needless to say, when they never came home from "finishing school".
|How was Elizabeth finally brought to the authorities' attention?|
People found the discarded bodies. Disposing of hundreds of dead bodies was no small feat, one in which Elizabeth engaged her strong servants. Most were dumped in the forest, fields, or wheat silos. Eventually, the servants began to get lazy and stowed the bodies under beds in the castle. Not surprisingly, they didn't smell very good, and other servants began to complain. The bodies were then tossed over the castle walls into the countryside. However, nude female bodies drained of blood were not a common sight in the area, and people began to take notice, signalling the end of Elizabeth's reign of terror. The authorities were notified, and a raid of the castle was scheduled for December 30, 1610.
|How many victims did Elizabeth kill?|
612. Astonishingly, this figure has been verified; all 612 names were found written Elizabeth's diary in her own handwriting. This was one of the less gruesome finds made in the castle during the raid of December 30, 1610, conducted by Count Thurzo, governor of the province and cousin of the accused. Other telltale findings were a dead body drained of blood, implements of torture, and live prisoners awaiting their fate.
|All of Elizabeth's accomplices were females.|
f. Although the Countess tended to surround herself with women (some accounts say that she was a lesbian), there was one man with the unenviable position among her inner circle. János (John) Ujvary, aka Ficzko, one of her servants, was a dwarf who showed a talent for ingenious methods of torture. All 612 of her victims, interestingly, were female.
|Elizabeth was distantly related to Vlad the Impaler.|
t. The Bathory clan was related, albeit distantly, by marriage to the infamous Vlad Tepes, aka Vlad the Impaler. The commander of the expedition that helped Vlad regain his throne in 1476 was Prince Steven Báthory, Elizabeth's cousin. A fief of Vlad, Castle Fagaras, became a Báthory possession during Elizabeth's life. Both families sported a dragon on their crests.
|What eventually happened to Elizabeth?|
She was imprisoned in her castle. More than 200 witnesses testified in what was surely the seventeenth-century "Trial of the Century". Three of her accomplices- Dorka, Helena Jo, and Ficzko- confessed after being tortured and were burned at the stake; others were beheaded. However, Elizabeth, being of noble birth, escaped that fate; instead, she was "walled up" in a small chamber in her castle, with only a small hole left with which to provide air and food. (The tower still stands today in what is now the Slovak Republic). After three years, in 1614, she was found dead in her prison, aged 54. Her body was interred in the Bathory family tomb.
Did you find these entries particularly interesting, or do you have comments / corrections to make? Let the author know!
Send the author a thank you or
Submit a correction